Loyalty programs are not a novelties in the hospitality industry. They are already in use as a special offers in travel agencies and hospitality, but in the recent past, loyalty programs has become very popular for restaurants around the globe. One of the reason for big popularity is increasing number of users of mobile applications for restaurants, which is also one of the main media for promotion of restaurant loyalty programs.
National Restaurant Association brings information that currently 30% of all restaurants offer some form of loyalty program. Research shows that 57 % of adult consumers are more likely to visit restaurants that offer some of the loyalty program for its customers.
Another study that tracked U.S. consumer attitudes and behavior regarding restaurant rewards programs done by Loyalogy, leading provider of loyalty program analysis, bring the data about rewards programs which confirms that these programs may increase guest visits by 35%. Following chart shows results of this study.
We may conclude that this method of restaurant promotion is a very efficient and deserves a special place when creating a marketing campaign for your restaurant.
The Specificity of Restaurant Marketing
First of all, caterers must consider that restaurant’s products and service their customers could not smell, taste, see or feel before purchasing. Therefore, the marketing concept in the hospitality industry is different from marketing concept in production or sales industry. So how to keep them comming back?
If your restaurant providing to your guest good restaurant service, or a delicious meals that surpassed guest’s expectations, he or she will become your satisfied customer, and consequently your restaurant loyal customer.
To understand the difference between a satisfied and loyal customer get yourself familiar with basic groups of clients:
- Unhappy customer – who will leave a restaurant and look for another restaurant that will fulfill his or her needs better – hopefully without insult.
- Satisfied customer – guest who is satisfied with the product or service, but is open for next better opportunity.
- Loyal customer – a guest who will always come back to your restaurant regardless of the competing restaurants offers.
Your goal is of course to turn satisfied customers into your loyal customers. But how to do that ? Restaurant loyalty programs for your guests are the main instruments in this goal realization!
Why do You Need a Restaurant Loyalty Programs?
Creating a loyalty program for your guests will have an immense impact on your restaurant business:
- You give the reason to your customers to hope to get something when visit your restaurant again.
- You improve relationships with your guests.
- You build your database of guests.
- You have the possibility to gratitude and reward your loyal customers.
- You are building a brand for your restaurant.
- Your restaurant become more competitive.
- Frequency of your guests visits is increasing.
- You make more money.
The Impact of Loyalty Programs on Restaurant’s Guests
If you have for example, a cafe shop and you are offering every tenth coffee for free that will surely attract new guests and keep your regular customers. Equal principle of promotion with loyalty program can be done in your restaurant with rewarding your loyal guests with free dessert or with a glass of good wine.
Not only that these benefits will pleasantly surprise your guests than programs for loyal guests become something that you must have in your offer, something that your customers expect from you!
But before we go into planning of restaurant loyalty program and rewards for your customers there is what you need to know.
How restaurant loyalty programs have impact in your guests choices of their favorit restaurants the best shows data of research conducted by Fast Casual. After three months of monitoring of the guests behavior – those who were involved in loyalty program and those who were not involved in the loyalty program in nine chain restaurants that offer pizza they came up with the following data :
- 27 % of guests who were for first time in one of these restaurants and have been informed and involved in the loyalty program were during the time of the study returned to the same restaurant at least once.
- 14 % of the total number of guests who come for the first time in the restaurant and were involved in a loyalty program have at least twice returned to the same restaurants during a three-month research period.
- When we talk about re- visit of those restaurants guests who were not involved in the loyalty program, then the percentage of returning guests decreasing. Only 12 % of these guests have visited the same restaurant once, and 3 % of them visited the same restaurant for another 2 or 3 times.
These data demonstrate the effectiveness of restaurant loyalty program and influence in converting satisfied guests into your regular guests. We conclude that loyalty programs has significant positive impact on the restaurant sales.
Different Approach to Restaurant Loyalty Programs
It has been recommended to start your loyalty program with simple programs like ” When you spend $ 100 in our restaurant you will get coupon worth $ 10 ” ! But if you already have in your offer this type of cards for your loyal guests, it’s time to try something new, something more interesting for your customers. According to a report about the effects of a loyalty program on Technomic, 81% of guests participating in these programs because of the value of awards, and 16 % because of their loyalty to specific restaurant. This means that you need something that will make your guests to come back to your restaurant and provoke smiles on their faces.
Make your restaurant loyalty program really special. Do not let your customers have to pay anything in advance to enter in your restaurant loyalty programs. Is’nt this program designed for your guests to save money and not giving it advance ? In this way, your offer is more attractive than the offers from other restaurants and becomes concurrent and really special. Discounts that you offer have to be realistic for your bottom line and attractive enough for your guests.
Convert your restaurant loyalty program into the game. It’s time for fun. Offer to your guests a loyalty card, and then when they reach a certain number of visits or a certain number of ordered dishes include them in the game. Any game can be used for this purpose. Reward your guests with gift card or some nice gift. The award can be much more interesting than just a discount on certain dishes.Think about rewards that you can offer. Connect with other owners of the service industries. This can be a free haircut at the hair salon whose staff will in turn dine for free at your restaurant. What do you think about that ? So many ladies will be happy to take this reward, I’m sure. In this way you build even stronger relationship with your customers .
Show that your care about others. People love to receive gifts, but also many of us still like to share with others, especially those ones who need some kind of goods the most, like children without parents or people with special needs. Devise a loyalty program that will support vulnerable groups. After a certain number of visits or meals your restaurant could donate money, meals or food to food charity. In this way, people who really need food and money will get it, and you will get deserved respect from your community and your regular customers.
Don’t forget to use Foursquare to create a restaurant loyalty program. Your guests probably already using Foursquare. Offer to your guests a free appetizer and a special discount on food for everyone who checked in your restaurant on Foursquare. The advantage of this loyalty program is that there is no cost for this program and loyalty card are not required. Check your profile on Fourthsquare website and you will see all check ins, and all for free. Update your profile regularly with informations about your offers. In this way you also promote your restaurant to a wider audience, especially to tourists who often choose a restaurant for lunch or dinner according to the frequency of visits to certain restaurants in the region where they are located.
If you think that you’ve finished the job by creating a loyalty program you’re dead wrong . Loyalty programs often require updating, renovation and upgrade to become and remain attractive.
Branding Your Restaurant Through the Loyalty Programs
The loyalty program can be and must be used also for branding your restaurant. This means that loyalty program must have a special name and appearance. It must be different from other competing loyalty programs and associated with the topic and the type of restaurant. For example, if you have a hunter’s restaurant on your loyalty card that should be clearly evident – photo of boar or some other wildlife will be an excellent choice. Instead of your guests collect points they could collect rabbits or foxes ?
Branding through the loyalty program will fail if do not have a clear message, if it is not emotionally connecting with your target customers, if not confirm the credibility and do not motivate the clients to participate in these programs.
You need to plan a budget for all costs involved in the implementation of the restaurant loyalty programs. This includes the costs of awards, IT support and ongoing operations for calculation of the success of loyalty program. Without adequate data about the effectiveness of loyalty programs you will not know what are the cost-efficiencies of these programs and when some actions are required to change and improve your loyalty programs.
Analyze Your Guests and Define the Target Group
It is very important to analyze your costumers. If you already have a database of guests that will certainly facilitate this work. Observe the behavior of your guests and identify those who respond to specific initiatives. Connect their desires and behaviors while purchasing with your restaurant loyalty program. Find the best way of informing your guests about the loyalty program, whether it is email marketing or advertising through the flyers or advertisements in front of the restaurant ? Optimize loyalty program to your guests behavior and you will have the very good participation in these programs.
With the help of IT support and good restaurant software it would be much more easy to solve this tasks. Also, it will help to track the frequency of your guests visits and allow you to contact and inform your regular guests about new offers when your regular guest have not visited your catering facility for some time, and remind them to come again in your little paradise.
New Loyalty Program for Restaurants
Guests who will be involved in the restaurant loyalty programs can be grouped in three groups:
- Guests who want to save some money
- Guests who are looking forward to get some rewards
- Millennials – a new guests generation that want to make direct contact with the restaurants and to share their experience on internet.
Most of your guests use smart mobile phones when they choosing a restaurant for lunch or dinner ? Let’ s write a little bit more about third one.
If this is the case, then you have to present your loyalty program supplemented with digital loyalty program which could increase your sales drasticcaly.
Online restaurant coupons and restaurant mobile apps are indispensable to digitize loyalty programs. In this way, your loyalty program becomes more dynamic and easy to share on social media networks and popular websites about restaurants. Information is spreading very quickly from user to user, and you ‘re getting feedback about your offer. This gives you the possibility to adapt it to the needs of your guests.
Successful restaurants will not only offer digital programs for loyal guests, they will also personalize awards in these programs. In this way, the different groups of guests get various awards which results with better participation in the loyalty programs. Digital loyalty programs not only attract the guests to return to your restaurant, it also give them possibility to connect with other users of this services.
The Future of Loyalty Programs – Mobile Applications
We are living extremely fast lives and the use of mobile applications is increasing everyday. So the use of mobile apps for restaurant loyalty programs and marketing in general will be more and more present in the future.
Tastecard is a mobile application that is currently very popular in the UK. It is a digital loyalty card. By purchasing tastecards guests gets discounts up to 50 % for meals in restaurants that are members of the tastecard team. What can tastecard offer?
- Browsing the restaurants near the current location of your guests.
- View the route to the restaurant from your guest current location.
- Guest could call the restaurant directly from mobile apps.
- Showing pictures of restaurants.
- View reviews by other tastecard members and allowing to your guests to add their own comments.
- Filtered search results by cuisine price and available offers.
- Adding restaurant to your guests favorites list.
The use of mobile applications – digital loyalty cards allow to your customers participation in loyalty programs, increasing awareness of your restaurant brand and user involvement throughout the process of building a loyalty program.
Your guests are mobile, your restaurant loyalty program should be too! In the United States it becomes an increasingly popular mobile application Pirq for guests and caterers. It is a digital loyalty program that allows to track customer visits and to offer custom awards for the best of your guests. Pirq is available across America. It does not requires card, everything is digitized. Also, you do not need integration into the POS system to track your customers. Very convenient and attractive way of loyalty program that you can start today for only $ 30. Is it possible to get much better sales with it ?
Have you already create a loyalty program and what are your experiences ?
Did loyalty programs had a major impact in the operations of your restaurant ?